Breast cancer: 'Both my husband and I survived the disease'

Breast cancer: 'Both my husband and I survived the disease'

10/17/2021 1:53:00 AM

Breast cancer: 'Both my husband and I survived the disease'

Pat and Mark James both survived breast cancer, and want to warn 'macho' men they could get it too.

Image caption,"Some of the conversations I've had have been gobsmacking. If I tell them I've had breast cancer, they don't understand it.Image caption,"There's a very strong message out there for women to check their breasts and most women are aware," said Tenovus Cancer Care chief executive Judi Rhys.

Image source,Mark and Pat James feel very lucky that their breast cancers were spotted and dealt with early"We've been lucky and we've been made aware of it and we acted to do something about it," said Mark.Image caption,"Men have breast tissue exactly the same way women do," said Zoe Barber, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon at Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend.

Read more: BBC Health News »

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Army Reserve veteran and keen mountaineer Mark James still goes to the gym regularly Image source, Mark and Pat James Image caption, Mark James' son Steven and grandson Keiran have regular check-ups due to the family history of breast cancer "For many men, if they had something a bit funny going on around their chest, they would just not be conscious that it could be breast cancer. "Some of the conversations I've had have been gobsmacking. If I tell them I've had breast cancer, they don't understand it. "Plus there's a view that if a man has breast cancer, you're somehow not a man. It's this macho business. I've had breast cancer, so what." Image source, Image caption, Mark James supports male breast cancer awareness groups that warn men about the disease Both Mark's mother and sister have also had breast cancer, and researchers say both men and women with a strong family history of breast cancer are at an increased risk. "There's a very strong message out there for women to check their breasts and most women are aware," said Tenovus Cancer Care chief executive Judi Rhys. "But men simply don't do that because they are not aware. "So if there are any changes in the nipple area, men may just ignore them and think it's nothing - then it's left to develop, that's why breast cancer among men is often late diagnosed." Image source, Mark and Pat James Image caption, Mark and Pat James feel very lucky that their breast cancers were spotted and dealt with early Mark was having a consultation before a hernia operation in May 2017 when a nurse first noticed something was wrong and advised him to get it checked out. Within weeks, he had his diagnosis of type 2 breast cancer and was back at hospital in nearby Bridgend having surgery. "We've been lucky and we've been made aware of it and we acted to do something about it," said Mark. "It's diagnosis, diagnosis, diagnosis for me. Just get rid of the bloody thing." Image source, Image caption, Mark James spends a lot of his spare time walking with wife Pat Breast cancer is rare in men and usually affects over-50s. There is currently little research and no routine screening specifically for men. "Men have breast tissue exactly the same way women do," said Zoe Barber, consultant oncoplastic breast surgeon at Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend. "It's just not as big and it's subject to the same hormonal changes which happen with age. Similarly, medication can change men's breasts as well and men do need to be just as aware of breast changes as women do. "Men can also undergo a mastectomy which is an operation where we take all of the breast tissue away normally with nipple and areola, which is the darker skin around the nipple. This is a common operation to treat breast cancer on men and women." Mark still has an annual mammogram and the keen mountaineer takes daily medication while his children have regular check-ups because of the family history. "I do think for men they should call it chest cancer," said Pat. "As it's something men will understand then." Related Topics